Oulipost #3: Definitional Lit

Today we’re three days in to Ouliposting – the project that is sponsored by The Found Poetry Review and has 68 participants, including me, worldwide! It’s been an invigorating and fun experience so far. Of course, I’m only three days in; however, I am finding even though I work with words everyday as a poet/writer and writing instructor – I’m falling in love with them in new ways! Today our task was to use one sentence out of the newspaper and then reconstruct the sentence with definitions! One of the first articles I stumbled across had a deliciously long sentence with some great words that called my name, so without further ado, I will share my poem, the sentence, the source, and then the Oulipost prompt. Enjoy!

Toledo: (Un)Dead

An official elected to act as chief executive

or nominal head of a city, (Toledo):

a group of animals driven

or moving in a body,

being one in addition:one more –

a slender pointed fastener with a head

designed to be pounded in

on this Day of Woden,

to the inside of

a box or chest for burying a corpse.


To hold within,

not in view:

a method for accomplishing an objective,

one more than two,

to commit (money) in order to earn

a financial return.

To express in words

those individuals under discussion,

to hold in possession, to hold in

one’s use, service, or regard.

To make private; especially to change

from public to private control or ownership.


(Toledo): Traveling at high speed

and esp. with few stops. A place

from which aircraft operate

that has paved runways and

[a] terminal.


Sentence: “Toledo Mayor D. Michael Collins drove another nail Wednesday into the coffin containing undisclosed plans three investors say they have to privatize Toledo Express Airport.”

Source: Messina, Ignazio. “Collins grounds bids for airports.” Toledo Blade 3 Apr. 2014. Web.

Dictionary: Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary.

Oulipost Prompt:

Definitional Lit

Select a single sentence from a newspaper article. Replace each meaningful word in the text [verb, noun, adjective, adverb] by its dictionary definition. Repeat this treatment on the resulting sentence, and so on, until you’ve had enough! Note that after only two such treatments with a relatively compact dictionary, even a two-word sentence can produce an accumulation of 57 words.

See you tomorrow!

4 thoughts on “Oulipost #3: Definitional Lit

  1. I absolutely love that you worked “Day of Woden” into a definitional poem. You tackled a long sentence, and forged (coaxed?) such a compelling narrative flow! The horde moving as a body of animals (or zombies?), the powerful connection between the (un)dead in the title and the word “terminal” in the last line…as a Walking Dead fan, I dig this poem immensely. 🙂

    • Thank you, Jody! I enjoyed this one. When I saw words like “coffin” and “privatized” in that sentence, I couldn’t resist! Of course, I made that title “fit” what was going on in the poem, which seemed like a natural choice. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s